Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Responds to Arakan State Attacks

By Htet Naing Zaw 12 October 2016

NAYPYIDAW — Burma’s State Counselor and Foreign Affairs Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said on Wednesday that she would not accuse any individual or organization before obtaining evidence regarding the culprits of the recent violent attack in Arakan State.

While responding to questions posed by journalists during a joint press conference of the State Counselor and her counterpart Bert Koenders, the Foreign Affairs Minister of the Netherlands who is currently in Naypyidaw on an official visit, she pledged to handle the case “fairly” and manage the situation according to “rule of law.”

“We are not going to accuse anybody until we know clearly [who is behind the attack] and have solid evidence.”

According to information from the government, the Sunday attack on border guard headquarters and outposts in Maungdaw and Rathedaung Townships in Arakan State resulted in the death of nine police officers and eight alleged attackers.

A manhunt by security forces in Maungdaw Township reportedly involved the death of four soldiers and seven suspects.

At Wednesday’s press conference, the State Counselor did not identify an organization responsible for the attacks.

One Dutch journalist asked Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to respond to criticism that she is “not moving fast enough” and not “outspoken enough” regarding human rights violations in Burma.

“We take it very seriously—accusations regarding human rights violations—and our country will investigate very carefully,” she responded.

She said Burma was coping with a system that has been in place for more than half a century and that it could not be changed overnight.

The State Counselor also stressed the importance of public involvement in protecting human rights but that the “greater part of the responsibility falls on the government.”

“The protection of human rights is not something that the government alone can handle. The public also has to be involved,” she said.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticized by local and international human rights advocates for her perceived silence regarding human rights violations by the Burma Army in ethnic areas where there are ongoing armed conflicts.

Koenders is in Burma on an official visit from Oct. 11 to 13 to discuss bilateral cooperation between the two countries and will open the new Dutch embassy in Rangoon on Wednesday evening.

He will also travel to Arakan State to meet with those affected by communal conflicts in 2012. The Netherlands opened a trade office in Burma in 2013.